Safety requirements for pre-disposal management of RAW

The first few requirements are directed at governments and require appro­priate national legal and regulatory frameworks to be established within which RAW management activities can be planned and safely carried out. This includes the clear and unequivocal allocation of responsibilities, the securing of financial and other resources, and the provision of independent regulatory functions. Consideration also has to be given to providing pro­tection beyond national borders as appropriate and necessary for neigh­bouring countries that may be affected. Governments must also ensure that a national policy and a strategy for RAW management are established that are appropriate for the nature and amounts of RAW in the country. They must indicate the regulatory control required for particular RAW manage­ment facilities and activities, and be compatible with any regional or inter­national conventions and codes that have been ratified by the country. The national policy on radioactive waste management and strategy to imple­ment it must then form the basis for decision making with respect to the management of RAW within the country.

The regulatory body needs to establish regulations for the development of RAW management facilities and activities and to set out procedures for meeting requirements for the various stages of the licensing process. It has to review and assess the safety case for RAW management facilities and activities prepared by the operator both prior to authorisation and periodi­cally during operation. Provisions must also be in place for issuing, amend­ing, suspending or revoking licences, subject to any necessary conditions and the regulatory body has to carry out activities to verify that the opera­tor meets these conditions.

Operator organisations have the prime responsibility for safety and are required to carry out safety assessments and develop a safety case demon­strating safety. They must also ensure that the necessary activities for siting, design, construction, commissioning, operation, shutdown and decommis­sioning are carried out in compliance with legal and regulatory require­ments. Interdependences among all steps in the pre-disposal management of RAW, as well as the impact of the anticipated disposal option have to be appropriately taken into account and the regulatory authorities must ensure this in the event of different operator organisations having responsibility for different aspects of waste management such as treatment, transport, storage and disposal. An integrated approach must also be taken to both safety and security in the pre-disposal management of RAW. The quality of all work influencing safety must be of a high standard and in this regard appropriate management systems must be applied for all steps and ele­ments of the work undertaken.

All RAW has to be identified and controlled and the amount of RAW arising needs to be kept to the minimum practicable. At various steps in the pre-disposal management of RAW, the RAW has to be characterised and classified in accordance with requirements established or approved by the regulatory body.

All radioactive material for which no further use is foreseen, and with characteristics that make it unsuitable for authorised discharge, author­ised use or clearance from regulatory control, has to be processed as radioactive waste. The processing of radioactive waste needs to be based on appropriate consideration of the characteristics of the waste and of the demands imposed by the different steps in its management (pre-treatment, treatment, conditioning, transport, storage and disposal). Waste packages need to be designed and produced so that the radioactive material is appropriately contained both during normal operation and in accident conditions that could occur in the handling, storage, transport and disposal of waste.

Waste is to be stored in such a manner that it can be inspected, monitored, retrieved and preserved in a condition suitable for its subsequent manage­ment with due account taken of the expected period of storage. To the extent possible, passive safety features must be applied in the design and operation of storage facilities. For long-term storage in particular, measures need to be taken to prevent degradation of the waste containment. Waste packages and unpackaged waste that are accepted for processing, storage and/or disposal must conform to criteria that are consistent with the safety case.

The safety case for RAW management facilities and activities is of high importance and operators have to prepare a safety case and a supporting safety assessment, which must also be reviewed and updated from time to time as circumstances evolve. The safety case must include a description of how all the safety aspects of the site, the design, operation, shutdown and decommissioning of the facility, and the managerial controls satisfy the regulatory requirements. It must also demonstrate the level of protection provided and provide assurance to the regulatory body that safety require­ments will be met. The safety case and its supporting safety assessment have to be documented at a level of detail and quality sufficient to demonstrate safety, to support the decision at each stage and to allow for independent review and approval. Documentation has to be clearly written and include arguments justifying the approaches taken in the safety case on the basis of information that is traceable.

Waste management facilities must be located and designed so as to ensure safety for the expected operating lifetime under both normal and possible accident conditions, and for their decommissioning. They need to be con­structed in accordance with the design as described in the safety case and approved by the regulatory body, and commissioning needs to be carried out to verify that the equipment, structures, systems and components, and the facility as a whole, perform as planned. Facilities have to be operated in accordance with national regulations and with the conditions imposed by the regulatory body. Operations need to be based on documented pro­cedures and due consideration given to the maintenance of the facility to ensure its safe performance. Emergency preparedness and response plans, if required to be developed by the operator, have to be subject to the approval of the regulatory body. Operators have to develop, in the design stage, an initial plan for the shutdown and decommissioning of the pre­disposal RAW management facility and periodically update it throughout the operational period. The decommissioning of the facility has to be carried out on the basis of the final decommissioning plan, as approved by the regu­latory body. In addition, assurance must be provided that sufficient funds will be available to carry out shutdown and decommissioning.

Some facilities are subject to agreements on nuclear material accounting (nuclear safeguards), and in the design and operation of such facilities the system of accounting for, and control of, nuclear material needs to be imple­mented in such a way as not to compromise the safety of the facility.

The requirements set out above are aimed at new facilities, but some existing facilities were not developed to such standards and in such cases their safety needs to be reviewed to verify compliance with requirements. Safety related upgrades need to be made by the operator in line with national policies and as required by the regulatory body.

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